Animal rights group the Animal Legal Defense Fund has accused Tyson Foods of "cruel" and "illegal" treatment of chickens at a production facility in Texas.
The ALDF claimed that the “extremely fast” speed at which chickens are slaughtered increases the risk of machinery jamming, fails to allow for the humane treatment of the animals and creates "safety concerns" for workers at the plant.
The ALDF released an undercover video highlighting alleged production issues at the site in Carthage, Texas, yesterday (14 September). The footage is the second undercover investigation into standards at Tyson Foods in recent months. Mercy For Animals released uncovered footage from a farm contracted by Tyson Foods in July.
"Our investigation proves that the cruel treatment of chickens by Tyson Foods are not isolated incidents, but a systematic, companywide problem," said Stephen Wells, ALDF executive director. "Tyson Foods is putting profits over not only ethical standards, but state and federal laws."
The ALDF has filed complaints with the US Department of Agriculture, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Attorney General of the State of Delaware – where Tyson is incorporated – and the US securities and exchange commission.
Responding to the allegations, a spokesperson for Tyson told just-food that it is "reviewing" the video footage but insisted the company is "absolutely committed" to "proper animal handling and workplace safety".
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"Everyone who works with live animals in our plants – including the person who secretly shot this video – is trained in proper animal handling and instructed to report anything they believe is inappropriate. They can report to their supervisor, the Tyson Foods compliance and ethics hotline and even one of the USDA inspectors who have access to all parts of the plant, including live animal handling areas. During the timeframe we believe this video was shot, we have no record of any employees reporting claims of animal handling violations," the spokesperson insisted.
As well as staff training, Tyson conducts its own animal handing audits and its operations are subject to third party audits, the company representative added. In addition, the company claimed its production rates are "well within" limits set by the USDA.